Reviewed by Marilyn Kupetz
I heard about Hoot Owl Hoot from a colleague with a 3-year-old, and I live in a neighborhood with lots of small fry who come visit. A cooperative rather than a competitive game (think oxytocin rather than cortisol) to play with my guests? Eco-friendly packaging? Nature-friendly theme? Fifteen-minute time commitment?
Had to try it out. My test subjects over several sessions were one 3-year-old, three 8-year-olds, one 33-year-old, one 56-year-old, and me (the first time through only, of course).
The goal of Hoot Owl Hoot as a game is to help six young owls make it back to their nest before the sun rises. The goal of Hoot Owl Hoot as an activity is to make it possible for the players to help each other help those owls.
Because the luck of the draw tends to interfere in competitive games, in this one, any player can move any owl. In fact, the instructions suggest that players be encouraged to talk about their hands and plan their strategy together. The game dynamics otherwise lend themselves to the skills and emotional cadence of pre-school- and elementary-age children and others who are young at heart. No reading necessary as the board and pieces are graphical.
Feedback from the test group:
- “I want a sun card!” (3-year-old)
- “Oh, wow, we can help each other?!” (8-year-old)
- “Cute!” (56-year-old)
Pluses: if you lose a piece, Peaceable Kingdom will replace it gratis. The entire kit is biodegradable.
The game reinforces positive the most central message of of the human role in nature and nurture: We are all in this together.